Nepali Times
Strictly Business
Elephant in the room


What do life, liberty and pursuit of property mean to the Maoists? Nothing, if recent newspaper items are to be interpreted. The items present a disturbing trailer of life in Nepal for 25 million Nepalis in the near future, brought about by thirty thousand Maoists. In the evergreen words of Pushpa Kamal Dahal, such a life will happen according to "the people's wishes".

Consider the case of two hapless Maoist lovers Man Bahadur Moktan, 20, and Muna Humagain, 18, who flung themselves to safety at a Kavre police station recently. Earlier, they were in a Maoist prison, undergoing a punishment for committing a 'cultural crime'-a clumsy phrase meaning 'sex between consenting adults who fail to invite Politburo members to peer in from the windows'.

Or, consider the case of Rajendra Karki of Morang, kidnapped on his way to a pilgrimage in late July. Or, Ram Tamang of Sunsari, sent off to a 'labour detention camp' to toil in the field of a Maoist adherent. Or the report that Maoists continue to collect steep tolls on the highways from buses and trucks to provide, well, "security to vehicles as security forces failed to do so." And what is one to think when the Maoist law primer, compiled by one-time architect Babu Ram Bhattarai, declares that private property is a source of crime, and therefore, as per The Communist Manifesto (1848), has to be abolished?

Had people affiliated with the Nepal Army or the present government been caught suggesting, let alone committing, similar acts, a big hangama would have erupted. But because rifle-toting comrades are involved, no one knows just what to say and how loudly. And all one senses is a nervous hush, even while degrees of freedoms get reduced.

But it's that hush which allows the Maoists to remain blindingly clear-eyed about earning their version of a communist utopia in Nepal soon. The examples above indicate that the Maoist Nepal is likely to follow the rigid dictates of a single party, which wants everyone to chant slogans from a single book. Such a Nepal is likely to be intolerant of individual voices, dissenting opinions, diversities of views, behaviours and mores. That Nepal is further likely to see dubious social rights trumping inalienable individual rights-in the name of specious justice.

And as the law primer suggests, debate is likely to be heresy, while doubt will be considered a sin. Meanwhile, justifications will be served, with the usual leftist phrases in the cadence of Nepali bhasa belonging to the era of Bhanubhakta. The sales pitch will be the same: The radical change is compulsory to set the inequities of the past 300 years correct in a few years with Maoism. No attention will be paid to why, alas, no one freely wants to copy such a 'scientific system' anywhere else on the planet.

In a recent Kantipur op-ed, socialist and civil society leader Devendra Raj Pandey worried more about the SPA's wavering stance toward royal institutions than about the Maoists' ongoing atrocities. But by continuing to squeeze juice out of defanged royal institutions at this stage, Pandey et al still appear to be giving a free pass to the comrades to continue to violate Nepalis' rights to have life, liberty and property, as though somehow such violations were not a harbinger of atrocities to come.

Pandey's wish was that if only our netas behaved better, all would be fine. But who's to tell him that, in the long run, our democracy's causes are far better served by flawed politicians answerable to diverse, competing voices than by a sure-fire cabal of radicals who assert that they alone possess the truth which they want to foist upon all with the barrel of a gun?

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)